The pandemic is still continuing in India and children have been at home now for more than a year. Students were looking forward to enjoying these summer holidays travelling with family since last year was spent home bound. The second wave has put a dampener and the worst fears of spending another summer vacation at home have come true.
Multiple pieces of research show that exposure to screens and lack of outdoor physical activities can make children lethargic, inactive and have long term psychological impact. Online school sessions can be tiresome as there is no in-person interaction among students and teachers. Unlike the pre-Covid days, children cannot share the same camaraderie with their peers.
Keeping children creatively engaged during summer holidays is difficult for parents who are also dealing simultaneously with their professional commitments, household chores, medical exigencies, etc. In this scenario, summer learning courses offer a powerful aid for children and their parents.
Challenges in online schooling
Over the past year, online schooling through Zoom, Google Meet and other similar products have become the new normal for many children. This method of teaching presents many challenges from an academic viewpoint. Teaching and learning do not take place online as it did in a physical classroom. In the absence of specialized eLearning solutions, teachers struggle to teach concepts engagingly and without any communication cues from students. The medium also does not account for intermediary assessment and requires a separate tool to administer online tests. It is extremely difficult for any teacher to assess whether students have grasped the concepts or not in realtime. Students also face immense peer pressure, as they may not be comfortable asking questions in a virtual classroom with tens of other classmates. The situation also has less scope for individual doubt solving. It can be a potential bottleneck for students in the K-12 segment who need to build a foundation for their future. Many schools might not be able to afford dedicated solutions and in many cases teachers are not digitally savvy creating another hurdle for effective online learning.
Engaging students with Summer Learning
During their vacation, students have the opportunity to enrol in summer courses to bridge the need-gap in their schooling. Supplemental education, if provided engagingly, can pique their interest and help them expand their knowledge. Summer learning courses are a step in this direction since they can help kids get ahead in their learning curve. They allow children to explore new academic and non-academic interests at an accelerated pace, without the pressure of regular learning schedules and exams. Students have the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, catch up with latest trends, re-engage with out-of-class activities and hone critical skills.
For students in the K-12 segment, building key foundational skills in reading and math is essential. These skills lay the foundation for the student’s remaining academic career and pave well into adult life. It is necessary to engage students with various learning options, especially in the current pandemic climate. Hence workshops on interesting subjects like Robotics, Chess, YouTube, Game Development, 3D Printing, etc., can help apply concepts beyond the school curriculum. These allow students to learn relevant skills while excelling at academics. Workshops also foster several soft skills for social interactions outside of their network.
The advancement of the internet and technology has led to children becoming further curious as information is available at the fingertips. Knowing how to learn is an important skill in itself. Supplemental education can be a crucial tool in this era of need for constant upskilling, which through engaging summer workshops , can give students a new perspective on how to learn effectively and apply them in real life. Summer workshops breed curiosity and allow students to explore and cultivate new passions. With most entrance exams cancelled or postponed, summer workshops fill in the bridge period where students can continue to learn and keep up the momentum of studies. It gives them a breather yet can sharpen critical and logical thinking through subjects like coding.
Activities such as gaming are known to enhance curiosity while teaching new concepts. We live in a knowledge-powered world. If we arm our kids with the right tools and knowledge, they can easily forge their paths to success. One such example is the rise of the creative economy. Today, many have successfully charted their career paths as artists, digital content creators, or vloggers. Workshops that teach students about these niche new-age career options and allow them to experiment are beneficial for young minds. They teach kids to be resilient and allow them to fail without compromising on academic studies.
A path to tomorrow
It is high time that as a society, we allow our children to fearlessly pursue their interests. While children are forced to focus on school curriculum most of the year, summer workshops can offer them creative outlet that also contributes to their holistic development. Parents should equally participate in identifying kids’ talents, and select summer workshops that are of interest to them. Special attention should be paid to practical learning, skill building, and interactivity when choosing the topic of the workshop. Summer holidays are a great time for students to equip themselves with additional resources that can help in the upcoming academic year. Play while you learn is much-needed; and there are many choices available.
(Author Charu Noheria is Co Founder and COO, Practically. Views expressed here are personal.)